If you and your spouse need a break from each other, getting a separation agreement may be the way to go. A separation agreement allows you to gradually work out your marital difficulties over time without the stress of divorce hanging over your head. In this article, we discuss how to enter into a separation agreement.

What is a separation agreement?

A separation agreement is a written contract spouses sign without a court’s involvement. This agreement spells out each party’s rights and responsibilities during separation. You can write it yourselves or get help from a separation agreement lawyer.

The Family Law Act encourages spouses to make agreements to resolve their disputes amicably rather than going to court. However, if one spouse doesn’t fulfil their commitments under the separation agreement, the other spouse can have the agreement enforced in court.

Steps to enter into a separation agreement

The steps to enter into a separation agreement include:

  1. Negotiate
    Negotiating the conditions from a neutral position is the first step in any separation agreement. During the negotiation process, partners can communicate their priorities and readiness to compromise. If you and your spouse are too emotional, you can hire a family lawyer to guide you through the discussions.
  2. Determine priorities
    A separation agreement outlines the division of all familial and financial assets. Establishing each partner’s priorities helps the division process go smoothly. Consider and discuss property distribution, parenting time and child support, and who will keep the family home.
  3. Separate physical property
    Tangible property such as clothes, books and other goods are divided during this phase. It’s better to amicably decide what marital property each party will maintain ownership of rather than waiting for the courts to decide. Negotiate and agree on properties that aren’t easy to divide.
  4. Divide debts and bills
    If you and your spouse acquired marital property or incurred debt during your marriage, the agreement should spell out your rights and duties regarding such assets and debts. This step of the process can be straightforward if you signed a prenuptial agreement before marriage. To ensure fairness, take your income into account.
  5. Examine income for spousal maintenance
    If you need to pay spousal support, you can assess your income to estimate how much it will be. Lower-income spouses frequently receive maintenance payments from their higher-income partners until they are able to establish their own finances.
  6. Determine child support
    When you have children together, separation agreements detail custody, parenting time, child support and supervision. Cohabitation agreements are signed by couples with children who agree to live together – while legally separated – to care for those children. Determine the best interests of your child(ren) before deciding.
  7. Consider legal separation
    Check if your province allows for legal separation. If it does, you’ll have to file a court petition to get your agreement approved. You can hire a lawyer, use online resources or contact your court clerk.
  8. Draft your agreement form
    Make sure your agreement form is province-specific and adheres to all applicable rules. Ensure the form includes your names, addresses and details of your marriage. The form should also include a statement of intention to separate and terms of use of the agreement.
  9. Sign the agreement
    Both parties must sign the agreement for it to be legally binding. You and your spouse will need to sign it in front of a notary public. Signing the agreement makes it viable and enforceable in court.

Are you looking for a separation agreement lawyer in Surrey?

If you’re looking to separate from your spouse and need a family lawyer, contact us at Nirwan Law Corporation.

Our family lawyers are trained and experienced in all areas of family law. We will help you draft and finalize your agreement.

Contact us today for your free consultation.